When looking for a managed services firm, you want to make sure that any potential vendors meet the technical requirements. Desktop support – check. Network monitoring – check. Disaster recovery plan – check. But what really sets one firm apart from another is their approach to communications.
Strong communication keeps everyone, from the vendor to the client, on the same page. Good communication is key to making external IT Support a seamless presence within your team. If communication falls apart, you begin to question why you are paying for support in the first place. It is only a matter of time before you start looking for other options. Instead, as a client, you want to feel valued. You want to feel a strong connection with your managed services provider.
The communication elements of a relationship can be difficult to manage. Everyone is a little different. They have unique situations and unique expectations. One thing that our Managed Services team has found is that a platform for communication helps the experience across the board. We rely on a system called ConnectWise. Connectwise gives us a single tool to manage our business process and our client communication whenever a client uses our support desk. With ConnectWise, every time that a client creates a ticket for an IT issue, we have a process to ensure they receive the communication and resolution they need.
Communication is about more than acknowledgement; it’s about action. Clients want to see that their issues are actively being worked on and showing progress. A main component of ConnectWise is maintaining a visual calendar with specific time allotments for ongoing issues.
The calendar makes it easier for us to keep track of the issues and ensure they are getting proper attention throughout the day. The ConnectWise calendar also syncs with Exchange, so our technicians receive reminders from Outlook of time commitments for ticket schedules.
As our team works on the tickets, status updates actively notify clients of progress. Tickets in ConnectWise have multiple statuses, such as “Assigned,” “Scheduled,” and “Working Issue Now.”
Once a client emails our helpdesk, an automatic alert is sent to ConnectWise to create and initiate a ticket. The submitter receives an email confirmation that the ticket was created. This contains any information they submitted with the ticket, along with the ticket number. Then the process begins.
- Tickets start with a status of “New.”
- Once they are assigned to a technician, the status will be changed to “Assigned,” and the client will receive an email stating this.
- Once the technician is assigned to a ticket, they will place this on their schedule in the ConnectWise calendar and will change the status to “Scheduled.” This will also notify the client.
- When a technician is actively working on a ticket, the status is changed to “Working Issue Now,” and this also sends an email to the client.
These consistent updates to the client provide them with the knowledge and certainty that their issue is being handled.
ConnectWise also makes it easy to communicate with the client while working on issues. We enter contact information (email, phone, and other useful details) for each employee at a client into the system. That way, our team can easily follow-up with someone about their issue by keeping their information close at hand. We want to ensure that no key communication gets lost within other email clients, so we reply directly to the ConnectWise email thread. Any and all responses are saved with the ticket details in ConnectWise.
The assigned technician also receives regular emails notifying them of the client’s response. Our technician will continue to get reminders until they open the ticket to respond. If the technician is waiting to hear back from the client, they can use the “Waiting on Client” status. This will send an email to the client about the status change, as well as send occasional reminders to the client that they need to respond.
Closing A Ticket
While working on an issue, the ticket notes a technician enters are sent to the client to keep them up-to-date on the progress. Once the ticket is done or resolved, the status is changed to “Completed,” and the client is notified. The status is kept in this state prior to being marked as “Closed” to give the client a chance to respond. If the client feels the issue is not resolved or a related item comes up, this is a good time for the client to notify us about it. Once the ticket status is changed to “Closed,” the client is also sent an email. If later on the issue returns, the client can respond to any email sent from the ticket and this will reopen the ticket. Once this happens, any technician who was assigned to the ticket previously will be notified so they can respond. We try to keep the communication aligned to easily pick up where we left off.
Value of a Communication Process
Transparency is a great way to maintain outstanding client communication and trust. Whenever a client feels left in the dark with issues important to them, this hurts the relationship and trust between the business and client. A managed services firm should always strive for excellence. If we want to prove to our clients that we actively practice this philosophy, what better way than real-time transparent updates when solving a client’s important issues? ConnectWise is not the only option to maintain constant client communication, but it is a proven one, and it has worked well for us and for our clients. Regardless of what system we use, we’ve learned not to leave client communication to chance. Our clients deserve better than that.